|Red-hot Lightning look for 8th straight win as they face Blues|
The Tampa Bay Lightning have won seven in a row to remain on the fast track toward becoming the third team to post 60 victories, let alone capturing the NHL record of 62 wins set by the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96.
With seven contests remaining on their schedule, the Lightning (58-13-4) look continue their torrid stretch and avenge a shutout last month at the hands of the St. Louis Blues (39-27-8) when the clubs meet in the Gateway City on Saturday night.
Ryan Callahan scored the go-ahead goal midway into the third period of Tampa Bay's 6-3 win over Carolina on Thursday.
"I think it's just our composure, our demeanor. Everybody talks about it in the media, the season we're having. But very rarely do you hear us mention it in here. It's always (about) trying to build our game," said the 34-year-old Callahan, who had been a healthy scratch in the previous five games.
"We know the real season starts in two weeks, and that's what we're focused on. It's what happens in the playoffs that matters."
Nikita Kucherov set up Tyler Johnson's late first-period goal versus the Hurricanes to boost his NHL-leading totals in assists (83) and points (120). Kucherov's points are the most since Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby had 120 in 2006-07, and it also matches Sergei Fedorov's total in 1993-94 as the second most among Russian-born NHL players behind Alexander Mogilny's 127-point effort with Buffalo in 1992-93.
For all of Tampa Bay's high-octane offense, it was shut out for the first time this season in a 1-0 overtime loss to St. Louis on Feb. 7.
Rookie Jordan Binnington turned aside 32 shots in that contest to improve to 8-1-1 with two shutouts since making his first NHL start in January. The 25-year-old has since his upped his mark to 19-4-1 overall and 11-0-1 against Eastern Conference representatives after turning aside 75 of 80 shots during his last three games, including 20 of 22 in a 5-2 victory versus Detroit on Thursday.
Fourth-liner Ivan Barbashev recorded his first career hat trick on Thursday, marking the second member of the Blues to score three goals in as many games. Jaden Schwartz posted a hat trick in Tuesday's 7-2 romp over Edmonton, helping St. Louis on its 3-0-1 run.
"We talk to 'Barbie' about being a power forward more," St. Louis coach Craig Berube said of Barbashev. "Banging and crashing, getting to the net and scoring dirty goals around the net. He's capable of that stuff."
Barbashev scored twice in the second period before capping his hat trick with an empty-net goal in the third.
"I thought our first period wasn't really good, but the second and third we just started playing better," the 23-year-old Barbashev said. "We played physical. It was a lot of fun to be out there."
St. Louis native Patrick Maroon scored in his career-high fourth consecutive contest and David Perron set up Oskar Sundqvist's first-period tally to extend his personal point streak to 17 games (nine goals, 13 assists), becoming the third player in franchise history to accomplish the feat. Hall of Famer Brett Hull has streaks of 25 (1991-92) and 20 games (1989-90) while Blake Dunlop posted a 19-game run in 1981-82.
Brayden Schenn scored 4:01 into overtime in the previous meeting with the Lightning, giving him 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 20 meetings with the club.
Tampa Bay forward Yanni Gourde's availability for Saturday's contest is in question following his hit to the head of Carolina's Jordan Staal. A 20-goal scorer, Gourde will have a hearing with the league, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced.
--Field Level Media